Lyn St. James Papers

Biographical / Historical Note

Born Evelyn Cornwall, March 13, 1947, in Willoughby, Ohio, Lyn St. James graduated from the Andrews School for Girls and the St. Louis Institute of Music and headed down a traditional path for young women of the 1960s: becoming a secretary and piano...

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Born Evelyn Cornwall, March 13, 1947, in Willoughby, Ohio, Lyn St. James graduated from the Andrews School for Girls and the St. Louis Institute of Music and headed down a traditional path for young women of the 1960s: becoming a secretary and piano teacher. In 1973, however, Lyn St. James decided to pursue a lifelong passion for cars and speed and began racing at regional amateur sports car events in Florida. In 1976 and 1977, she was the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Florida Regional Champion. St. James turned pro in 1979 and between 1981 and 1991 was sponsored by Ford Motor Company. Lyn St. James traveled across the country visiting Ford dealerships and speaking on behalf of Ford Motor Company and Ford Racing. After Ford pulled its sponsorship in 1991, Lyn pursued sponsors for the 1992 Indy season, finally partnering with retailer JC Penney and earning the 1992 Indianapolis Rookie of the Year award driving to an 11th place finish in her first Indianapolis 500 race. Over the next decade, Lyn St. James established herself as one of the premier drivers in professional racing, with seven consecutive starts at Indianapolis, world speed records and GTO class victories in the grueling endurance races at Le Mans, Sebring and Daytona.

After retiring from driving, Lyn St. James turned her talents, drive and ambition to promoting women in sports, especially women in professional racing. In 1994, she founded the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation to assist in driver development and advocacy primarily for young women pursuing sports careers.

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Scope and Content Note

The Lyn St. James papers contain a variety of material documenting Lyn’s multi-faceted careers as a professional racing driver, public speaker and advocate for women’s sports and women in racing. Material includes significant amounts of newspaper and...

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The Lyn St. James papers contain a variety of material documenting Lyn’s multi-faceted careers as a professional racing driver, public speaker and advocate for women’s sports and women in racing. Material includes significant amounts of newspaper and magazine clippings highlighting her career as a racecar driver, spokesperson and advocate for driver education and training. Of special interest is Lyn’s work as a mentor for young women entering professional racing as well as an advocate for women’s sports in general.

The Lyn St. James papers are made up of twelve series.

The CONTRACTS AND LEGAL DOCUMENTS SERIES (1.60 cubic ft.) consists of correspondence, contracts and proposals related to Lyn St. James’ race sponsorships, marketing agreements, presentations and television broadcast commentary. The material is arranged alphabetically by correspondent or topic.

The INDIANAPOLIS 500 SERIES (10.89 cubic ft., including 1 oversize box) is made up of four subseries. The Clippings and Articles subseries (3.00 cubic ft.) includes published material, articles, clippings and press kits documenting Lyn St. James’ career at Indianapolis as a driver, speaker and commentator. The bulk of the clippings cover Lyn’s first Indy race in 1992. The clippings are arranged chronologically. The Publications subseries (3.09 cubic ft., including 1 oversize box) consists of race-day programs, publicity material and fact books related to the Indianapolis 500 race. The Race Team and Season Operations subseries (2.00 cubic ft.) contains correspondence, race data, car and engine data and sponsorship information pertaining to participation in the Indianapolis 500. The subsubseries is arranged chronologically. The Sponsorship subseries (2.80 cubic ft.) is made up of two subsubseries. The Proposals and Potential Sponsors subsubseries (1.60 cubic ft.) includes correspondence and presentation material presented to potential corporate sponsors for Lyn’s Indianapolis racing endeavors. Of special interest are Lyn’s efforts to secure a sponsor for the 1991 Indianapolis 500. The Sponsors subsubseries (1.20 cubic ft.) contains correspondence and program materials centered on Lyn’s primary sponsors including JC Penny, Lifetime Cable Network, McDonalds and Nike. Materials in both subsubseries are arranged alphabetically by correspondent or topic.

The PROJECTS AND EVENTS SERIES (3.60 cubic ft.) consists of program materials, correspondence and publicity material covering various racing-related, promotional and philanthropic events and programs that Lyn St. James participated in or organized. The series is arranged alphabetically by event or organization.

The PUBLICITY AND MARKETING SERIES (6.59 cubic ft., including 1 oversize box) is made up of three subseries. The Clippings and Clip Books subseries (2.79 cubic ft., including 1 oversize box) is made up of newspaper and magazine clippings and photocopies of articles related to Lyn’s racing career as well as Lyn’s many public speaking events. The clippings are arranged as miscellaneous loose clippings, general clippings and additional clippings related to the Indianapolis 500 race. The Publications subseries (2.00 cubic ft.) includes a wide variety of general interest and racing magazines and publications with articles related to Lyn’s racing career. The publications are arranged chronologically. The Racing Programs subseries (1.80 cubic ft.) contains race-day programs arranged chronologically.

The RACING ACTIVITIES SERIES (6.40 cubic ft.) is made up of six subseries. The Driving Schools subseries (0.40 cubic ft.) consists of program and publicity materials related to driver training schools and driver education programs sponsored by or promoted by Lyn St. James. The files are arranged alphabetically by school name. The Ford Racing subseries (3.60 cubic ft.) contains correspondence, print clippings and publicity material documenting Lyn St. James’ professional relationship with Ford Motor Company. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by topic or correspondent. Researchers should note that boxes 143 and 144 from this subseries have been RESTRICTED due to material conservation issues. The Races subseries (0.40 cubic ft.) includes programs, track publications and race-day material for a small number of races. The Racing Series and Associations subseries (0.80 cubic ft.) consists of correspondence, rules publications and promotional material for various racing organizations. The subseries includes by-laws, rules and other information relevant to participation in sanctioned professional races. The Teams subseries (0.40 cubic ft.) contains correspondence and promotional material of race teams associated with Lyn’s driving career. The Tracks subseries (0.80 cubic ft.) is made up of general information regarding tracks across the United States including promotional material, maps and some correspondence.

The WOMEN IN SPORTS SERIES (0.8 cubic ft.) is made up of two subseries. The General subseries (0.60 cubic ft.) consists of correspondence, marketing material and research date related to women in amateur, collegiate and professional sports. The Women’s World Summit subseries (0.20 cubic ft.) contains correspondence and program development materials related to organizing an international conference promoting the professional development of women in sports with a focus on women racecar drivers.

The WOMEN IN RACING SERIES (2.4 cubic ft.) is made up of three subseries. The Formula Woman Series subseries (0.60 cubic ft.) includes correspondence and program planning and publicity material related to the formation of a women’s professional racing league. The Women’s Global GT Series subseries (1.40 cubic ft.) is made up of two subsubseries. The Operations subsubseries (0.80 cubic ft.) consists of correspondence, driver candidate information and press releases related to Lyn St. James’ activities organizing and promoting the Women’s Global GT racing series. The subsubseries is arranged alphabetically by topic. The Driver Files subsubseries (0.60 cubic ft.) is made up of individual files on participants in the driver training program. The subsubseries is arranged alphabetically by driver last name. The Women’s Sports Foundation subseries (0.40 cubic ft.) consists of correspondence and programming material related to Lyn’s work with the Women’s Sports Foundation and driver development programs. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by subject or topic.

The WOMEN IN THE WINNERS CIRCLE SERIES (0.20 cubic ft.) is a small collection of awards ceremony programs, a biennial report, publicity materials and material related to a jewelry catalog published by the Lyn St. James Foundation to raise funds.

The VIDEO RECORDINGS SERIES (30.99 cubic ft., approximately 400 tapes and 1 oversize box) consists of video footage covering Lyn St. James commercial and talk-show appearances, races, interviews, presentations and commentary. The tapes are arranged by video format and then chronologically. Formats include Betacam, U-Matic, U-Matic-S,VHS, D2, and Video Tape. The video tapes are available for viewing in the Benson Ford Research Center Reading Room.

The AUDIO RECORDINGS SERIES (0.40 cubic ft.) consists of 3 audio recording tapes that have been converted to CD-ROMs for use. The audio tapes are not dated, and consist of instrumental musical recordings as well as conversations between unknown people.

The AWARDS AND MEMORABILIA SERIES (32.73 cubic ft., including 32 oversize boxes, 6 oversize folders, and 1 oversize roll) contains photographs, award certificates, plaques, drawings, bumper stickers and correspondence related to commemorative awards and career memorabilia given to Lyn St. James.

The 2016 ADDENDEUM SERIES (11.0 cubic ft.; RESTRICTED) consists of material donated in 2016 as Accession 2016.51. The series contains files and background materials on race car drivers, mostly women, who applied to take part in the Complete Driver Academy/Lyn St. James Driver Development Program run by Lyn St. James. In addition to the drivers who participated in the program, this series also contains biographical materials on other female race car drivers. Researchers should note that this series has been RESTRICTED due to the prevalence of personally identifiable information (PII) in the records. Researchers interested in restricted material should contact Research Center staff in advance by email at research.center@thehenryford.org.

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Collection Details

Object ID: 2011.264.0
Creator: St. James, Lyn 
Inclusive Dates: 1980-2010
Size: 96.71 cubic ft. (144 boxes, 6 oversize folders, 1 oversize roll, and approximately 400 video recordings)
Language: English

Collection Access & Use

Item Location: Not Currently On Exhibit

Access Restrictions: The papers are open for research, with the exception of the following: - All material listed in the 2016 Addendum, boxes 132-142, which has been restricted due to the amount of personally identifiable information (PII) contained in the files - All material in boxes 143-144, which have been restricted due to conservation issues. Researchers interested in any restricted material should contact Research Center staff in advance by email at research.center@thehenryford.org.

Credit: From the Collections of The Henry Ford. Gift of Lyn St. James.

Digitized Artifacts From This Collection

Digital images from this collection are not yet available. The Benson Ford Research Center offers research and imaging services. Please contact us for more information at research.center@thehenryford.org.